Message Series ‘The new kind of life in Jesus’
Message Title: ‘A life… of love’ pt.1 Text: 1 John 2:7-11
Introduction: In one of the Peanuts cartoon strips Linus says ‘I love mankind; it’s people I can’t stand!’
- Isn’t it true that love in the abstract is easy,
- but when actual people are involved, well, not so much?
Kind of like these two:
- A guy called his neighbor at three in the morning and said, “Hey, your dog is barking and keeping me awake.” The neighbor called him back at 3 a.m. the next morning and said, “I don’t have a dog!” (adapted from Steve Shepherd)
I know you’ve heard the phrase ‘Love makes the world go round,’ but what kind of love are we talking about?
- Man, I just LOVE Philly cheesesteak subs.
- Hey, I love what you’ve done with your hair.
- Sweetheart, I will love you forever.
The word love is grossly overused and misused today and as such, has lost much of its intrinsic value.
I know you’ve heard the phrase ‘Love makes the world go round,’ but does it.. really? The world is still going round but love is finding it difficult to raise its head to be noticed.
- The world we live in seems to be fueled not by love but by hate.
- There’s senseless violence in our streets, hatred over wearing a certain hat, people being abused and injured, killed even, over differences of opinions.
- There’s destruction of property and theft because… they’re just expressing their anger.
- Every election year we have to endure political ads that are more by hateful, personal attacks than are about their platform.
- Even churches seem to market themselves as “better than” the other guys.
It doesn’t sound like love to me. (adapted from Bruce Goettsche)
Yet, in the Bible, we see one of the most identifying marks of being a Christian, is how we choose to live, with love, being the greatest choice we make.
- Look, when a police officer comes to your door, they identify themselves by showing you their badge.
- When we claim to be saved, the badge people will see, is the love or lack of love we show them.
Background: In our study of 1 John, we are looking at this new kind of life we have through faith in Jesus. And specifically, how this new kind of life is different than the life the unsaved world lives around us every day.
You see there’s a direct link between what the Apostle John said in our text last week and what he tells us today.
- In verses 1-6, John tells us that this new kind of life in Jesus will be evidenced by choosing to be obedient to God.
- In verses 7-11, John tells us that this new kind of life in Jesus will be evidenced by choosing to love others.
And look, I’ll be the first to admit that loving each other is a choice… a choice we need to make every day. Why? Because some people make it very hard to choose to love them.
- They always seem to be critical.
- They’re way too opinionated.
- Their political views are diametrically opposed to ours.
- They have habits that… well disgust you.
- They’ve done or still do things that hurt you.
And some of these people are often in your life… and face… everyday. So yes, it’s hard to choose to love them. Yet, it’s what we’re commanded in God’s Word to do.
And listen, the Apostle John knew something about loving one another. After all he is called the ‘Apostle of Love.’ One last story before I begin. It’s about the Apostle John:
- Jerome was the man who translated the Old and New Testaments into Latin.
- Jerome said that when John was very old, he was in the church at Ephesus but he wasn’t able to preach anymore.
- They would carry him on a chair, and he would say to the congregation, “Love one another. Love one another.”
- And when they would ask him why he said this, he would say, “Because it’s the Lord’s commandment and if you do this, it is everything.” (J Ligon Duncan)
Transition: Let’s take a look at the command of God to love one another in verse 7
1. 1 John 2:7 Remember
Beloved, I am writing you no new commandment, but an old commandment that you had from the beginning. The old commandment is the word that you have heard.
John starts off by calling those who are living this new kind of life in Jesus… beloved. His heart beats strongly for them. So notice that John starts… with showing love.
Then he tells us to remember something very important… A command of God that Israel has known for generations that’s found way back in Deuteronomy 6:5 and Leviticus 19:19b respectively:
- You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might.
- …you shall love your neighbor as yourself…
In fact, Jesus, Himself, in Matthew 22:36 references these two verses when asked
- What is the greatest commandment?
So, not only do all Jewish people know the command to love God and each other, but it’s ingrained in every new believing heart.
In other words:
- The law of love,
- is also the law of this new kind of life, in Jesus.
John was telling us
- Don’t just believe what I’m saying. Look it up in God’s Word.
- Remember that what was true and authoritative then, is still true and authoritative today.
Transition: So John says remember what you already know about love. But wait.. there’s more.
2. 1 John 2:8 Learn
At the same time, it is a new commandment that I am writing to you, which is true in Him (Jesus) and in you, because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
John is saying that there’s still more to learn about loving others, that we can only learn from Jesus.
John says this both old and new command to love is true in Him (Jesus) and in you,
- He’s saying that because of Jesus’ words and example, He has opened up a whole new understanding to what it means to love one another.
- What he’s saying is that this love was lived out in Jesus’ life… and it’ll be lived out in yours.
How do you know that John? because the darkness is passing away and the true light is already shining.
- The darkness (sin and I think more specifically hate) has not passed us by… we still sin, we still choose not to love as we ought…
- BUT, it’s getting less and less, it’s passing away as we continue to walk in the light that’s already shining in our lives.
Dr. Wayne Barber adds to this when he wrote:
- If Jesus is in my life, who is the Light and Life of the world, and if I am daily walking in His light, then something is happening to prove the fact that He lives in me.
- When I choose to walk obediently and deal with sin, then something happens to me. It’s like He turns on His light in me and the evidence of that light being in me is not some glow that I have.
- It’s the love for people, that flows out of me. That’s His light, shining in this world, through people who are believers.
- The light of God’s love in you and in me is putting out the darkness of hate that’s all around us.
So, that’s the big idea of verse 8. Let me break it down for some practical application.
- What does this new kind of love look like in the new kind of life in Jesus?
In John 13:35 we read that Jesus, in the upper room, just before His betrayal and crucifixion, told His disciples this:
- By this all people will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.
So, OK. Our badge, the mark of being a Christian, a follower of Jesus, is the love we have for each other. That’s still rather general isn’t it? That’s because I left out verse 34 which says:
- A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another.
There is a qualifier attached to the mark of love… it’s that we follow Jesus;’ example of love,
- we love others just as He has loved us.
- Jesus certainly raises the bar of love, doesn’t He?
From the Bible, we see that Jesus’ love was selfless, self-sacrificing, a love that loves even the unlovable.
Jesus’ kind of love was also written about by the Apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 13:1-8a
- If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.
- And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
- If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing. Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude.
- It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth.
- Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
- Love never ends.
We hear those verses read often at weddings and unconsciously perhaps, think, it only relates to married love. But no… this is agape love,
- the love that John is talking about in our text,
- the love that Jesus lived out and taught,
- the love we must have for one another.
It’s a love that we never could have had prior to the Incarnation of Jesus. He HAD to set the example for us and teach us how to love that way.
- Because Jesus’ love… is relational, not emotional, not intellectual, but practical and personal.
- Jesus had to show us how to love.
It’s a love we never could show for others apart from placing our faith in Jesus. The Apostle Paul wrote this in Romans 5:1ff:
- Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ… And… God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy
Spirit who has been given to us.
Christians can love like Jesus loved because God has poured the kind of love Jesus had, into our hearts, the moment we placed our faith in Jesus to be our Savior.
- That’s the heart and soul of our Christian testimony.
- That’s the foundation on which the gospel becomes believable.
- That’s what makes our Christianity… authentic.
Transition: Unfortunately, as Christians we will struggle with loving as Jesus loved.
3. 1 John 2:9 Warning #1
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness.
ILL: Steve Shepherd tells the following story:
A will written in 1935 by a Mr. Donohoe said: “Unto my two daughters, Frances Marie and Denise Victoria, by reason of their flippant attitude toward a doting father, I leave the sum of$1.00 to each and a father’s curse. May their lives be fraught with misery, unhappiness, and poignant sorrow. May their deaths be soon and of a lingering malignant and torturous nature. May their souls rest in hell and suffer the torments of the condemned for eternity.”
- That’s someone who had a lot of hate in them.
Whoever says he is in the light and hates his brother is still in darkness. This is a sober warning
- to all who claim to be a Christian, who claim to live in fellowship with Jesus and others,
- but, harbor hatred towards others in their heart and perhaps even in their words and actions.
John is saying that you cannot have fellowship with Jesus and other Christians, if you hold hate in your heart. You are not walking in the light of God’s love. In other words:
- If you have hate in one or more of your horizontal relationships with others,
- then you have a problem in your vertical relationship with God.
And just to be clear, hate can be expressed two ways:
- Active: With malicious talk, name calling, belittling or attempts to harm someone.
- Passive: With indifference, coldness, exclusion and unconcern.
For John there is no middle ground, there is only love or hate.
4. 1 John 2:10 Blessing
Whoever loves his brother abides in the light, and in Him there is no cause for stumbling.
John in verse 9 gives us a sober warning. In verse 10 he gives us a wonderful blessing.
When you love others the way Jesus loved others, when you walk in the light of Jesus’s example of love, then two things will happen:
- You won’t stumble into the sin of hating others.
- You won’t lead others to stumble into the sin of hating others.
You see, there’s safety in walking/living in the light of Jesus’ example of love.
- You wont stumble.
The Greek word for stumble is skandalon. It’s where we get the word…scandal.
- You won’t cause a scandal as a Christian by hating others.
- Or, you won’t bring about a scandal in their life by causing them to hate.
Look, here it is:
- As followers of Jesus, we follow His example of love
- So that others who see us, will follow our example of love.
Christian, let that example be one of loving like Jesus loved.
Transition: John gives us one more warning about not setting the right example of love. And it’s more serious than his last.
5. 1 John 2:11 Warning #2
But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks in the darkness, and does not know where he is going, because the darkness has blinded his eyes.
John is talking here about the person who consistently, year after year, harbors hate in his heart.
- Not only is he walking in darkness / sin, but his heart is becoming increasingly hardened by his hate.
- So much so that he’s wandering aimlessly in life because he can no longer see that his hate is sinful.
- Resulting not only in damage to himself but to those around him.
Understand, it’s normal that Christians will have feelings of hostility and dislike towards others at times but, by the power of God working in them, they can learn to forgive and to love… again.
- Christian, is there anyone in your life that you are not loving, perhaps even hating?
If we’re honest, that just might be a hard question to answer. Not because we don’t know the answer but we might not like how it sounds.
- Christian, is there someone who has harmed you or hurt you?
That’s usually where it starts. If you harbor hatred for them then listen….
- It will affect your fellowship with God and with other Christians. It absolutely will.
So, don’t let it start. And if it has, don’t let it continue. Don’t allow your hatred to make you bitter, cold and heartless.
Listen, 1 John 1:9 still counts when it comes to hatred.
- If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
Start with renewing your fellowship with God and then pray, pray and pray more that God will change your heart towards the one who hurt you.
- It has to happen, your heart has to change
- or it will harden.
Conclusion: Look, there’s a lot going on today in the world around us that might lead us to hate. And our enemy Satan, wants us to take the leap and jump into the darkness of hate. Don’t let him have his way with you. I struggle with this too.
- Call it road rage, political rage, racial rage, workplace rage, it’s all HATE! And Christian, it’s gotta go.
Steve Cole gives us some good advice on how to choose a live new kind of love: It all begins with how you think about others. Instead of thinking first about yourself, your feelings, your rights, and your needs, you must learn to think first about others.
- How can I show this difficult person the love of Jesus Christ?
- How can I serve this person in love?
- Rather than thinking angry thoughts about how he wronged you and how you’ll get even, you begin to think about how Jesus wants you to think about the one who mistreated you.
- Begin to pray for this person, that he would come to know Jesus or renew his walk with Jesus.
- Look for opportunities to return good instead of evil.
- Put away abusive speech that tears down the other person, and put on speech that builds him up
- Begin to practice loving deeds. Look for opportunities to serve others, beginning in your home.
Listen, people are desperate to know and experience real love, God’s kind of love. They need to know that God cares for them and wants to deliver and strengthen them against all the trials of life.
This kind of love, Jesus’ example of love displayed through us, will draw people together, not push them apart.
And friends, right now, right now we so need this kind of love:
- In our homes, in our schools, in our workplaces, in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our country.
God, please help us to love like Jesus loved.